Jostling in the top 10 was the pre-race aim for the West Competition Racing quartet - Alex Cascatău could have scored a podium, but it was ultimately Bogdan Moldovan who stunned with a mature drive en route to second place.
After many months of preparation and a string of test races, this has been the first week of action in the fifth Assetto Corsa season of the Romanian top sim racing league - RLR. Pre-qualifying ended with all four WCR drivers in the top dozen in a very hotly contested selection that saw massive interest for the series: 68 challengers for just 30 places on the grid.
Qualifying brought the pressure of delivering a solid lap in just 10 minutes. The experience of Alex Cascatău (P6) and Radu Dumitrescu (P8) counted, whilst the Academy pair of Bogdan Moldovan (P13) and Mihnea Georgescu (P22) were left in the danger zone of the mid-pack.
Race 1 saw Cascatău having a good start and catching up the right train - a three-way fight for P2. As his two rivals battled, the #12 WCR entrant momentarily got up to second, but he was the first to admit that he didn't really have the pace to stay there, dropping back to fourth by the end of the contest. Dumitrescu also made up two positions in 30 minutes, finishing 6th - two places above Moldovan who made good progress to benefit later on from the reverse grid. Less fortunate, Mihnea Georgescu (P27) got caught in a few skirmishes and couldn't turn his good pace in a points-scoring placement. He was one of the 11 starters that dipped into the 1:39s during the heat.
Race 2 started in the best possible way for Moldovan, who blasted from 3rd on the grid to take the lead and build a gap until rearguards spared him from the fastest opponents. As soon as Victor Nicolae dealt with the pack, Moldovan switched into a calculated attitude and raced at his own pace, taking home a fantastic second place in the famed Ravaglia factory livery from the DTM golden era. Cascatău and Dumitrescu were pushed and shoved in the peloton and could only salvage P7 and P11 respectively, while Georgescu was left fuming with more contacts and crossed the line down in P23.
Thus, West Competition Racing leaves the Austrian track with positive sensations from Moldovan's firework debut and a string of ”what could have been?” moments for the other three. Our group has three drivers in the top 8 in the standings after 1 of 10 rounds, giving the WCR and WCR Academy 3rd and 4th in the teams hierarchy. Next up is our home track, Motorpark Romania, where Cascatău, Dumitrescu and Georgescu might still have more laps in real life than on the simulator. A thing that's on course to change in the coming days.